Personal experiences & helpfull hints, Buenos Aires
This may seem like a weird tip, but on my way to my morning coffee, I would always stop at my favorite newsstand at the cornet of Alcorta and Calvia for a copy of the Buenos Aires Herald. After 3 days, I didn't even need to ask, they just got the copy ready when they saw me walking up.
The co-owner is a Porteno by the name of John. John used to own a gelato stand in Brooklyn, but is now back in his hometown selling newspapers, and is much happier. A huge futbol fan, when I needed an update on King Diego's condition, then John was my source. You can also find all kinds of maps, guides, bus schedules, camera film and the random nick-knack.
With different locations around the city, these kiosks are staffed with a friendly and bi-lingual crew whose main focus is to help you out with any questions you may have. Whether you need a street or metro map, need to find a place to buy tango tickets, need to figure out which bus takes you across town, or just need to speak to someone who speaks your language, these booths are extremely helpful with up-to-date information. I used them on several occasions on my trip, and they always were able to answer my questions -- with a smile!! Plus they're free!!! Can't beat that. Additionally they offer free walking tours.
Avenida Roque Saenz Pena and Florida
Galerias Pacifico, Florida 753, entre Viamonte and Cordoba
Cafe Tortoni, Avenida de Mayo 829, entre Piedras and Tacuari
Terminal de Omnibus de Retiro, Avenida Antartida Argentina and Calle 10
Fondest memory: 23 December 2001: We took lunch that day with Alex's grandma on the 800 block of calle Suipacha. (Sadly, in September, 2003, she died.) She fixed beef roasted with potatoes and onions served with rice and bread. Later on, we walked along the Avenida del 9 de Julio- supposed to be the widest street in the world and through some of the richest part of town- past the Brazilian and French embassies through to the Recoleta park. On the way back, Alex showed me some good places to shop on Avenida de Florida which is closed to traffic and a place to exchange my traveler's cheques. There were bums in the street with their hands out. I said things like, "We gave at the office." or "I don't speak Spanish." We must have walked 9 miles (15 km.) in the summer heat. It was not as uncomfortable as it could have been because there was always a constant breeze.
Favorite thing: When you go to the Recoleta Cemetary, take some moments to look not just at the well kept mauseoleums, but at some of the more dilapidated ones as well. It's humbling to look at a site and see a coffin sitting there amongst the falling plaster, spider webs, weather stained walls and unfortunately, public trash that has ended up there over time.
Favorite thing: This is just my impression, but BsAs might not be a place to bring a family that includes kids. I don't say this because it's dangerous and they'll get stolen but 'cuz BsAs is a city that seems to revolve around nightlife. Restaurants are hopping at 12midnight, clubs are open 'til dawn. During my travels I didn't see too many attractions geared towards the kiddies. I guess you can take them to the movies, or the arcades, or the internet cafes... but you can do that at home.
Favorite thing: In the Buenos Aires summer season, Portenos who aren't in Punta del Este, etc. sometimes go to private recreation facilities such as Punta Carrasco to lounge around the pool, sunbathe, drink and kick it with da homies. It's not very expensive (like around $10 pesos) so you make it a point to go too. But be warned, you'll have to go through a medical "screening" before they'll let your Krispy Kreme-fed milky white booty inside. Men go in one place and women in the other. You'll have to show em' you don't have lil critters running around in your armpits and don't need a lifetime supply of Lamisil. I've heard in other more stringent places you might have to show even more. Wouldn't want that job.
You've got to try the empanadas in Buenos Aires. They are the best. Beef, chicken, cheese, corn, spinach... whatever! The best kind are wrapped in a nice flaky dough that is nicely fried or baked with just enough filled to make them plump and muy rico! My favorite were from a place called Gourmet Empanadas that my friends found for us. The only problem is I don't know where they are located! Boo hoo!
Fondest memory: Eating empanadas to top off a great meal at a Chinese restaurant! Hah!
In all of the major (and I suppose less major)theatres, movies are always shown in their original language with Spanish subtitles, unless it is a children's movie. The children's movies are put into Spanish but otherwise you can watch it in the original language. The movie theatres are very very nice, clean, and well built. Two of the best centrally located places to go to the movies would be Cinemark behind Alto Palermo shopping center (in Palermo) and at the Recoleta Village.
Tickets cost about 10 pesos approximately, except on Wednesdays when there are discounts. That's also why it's very crowded on Wednesdays.
If you are from the states and order popcorn, then you should know there is no "buttered popcorn"--people here eat it sweet. However, nowadays it is possible also to get salted popcorn (still, no butter!).
One of my favorite experiences in Buenos Aires was taking dance classes with Carlos Ricciuiti and Natalia Giacchino at Cabillito Blanco. They are very passionate about teaching and even more so about tango. Carlos speaks good english and is quite a character.
If dancing tango is a reason for you to go to B.A. than go check these two out and see if they can help you.
They do group and private classes at Caballito Blanco, located on:
Marcelo T. de Alvear 479, Buenos Aires
It is near Parque San Martin and Florida.
Clases and Practice are Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday 1pm to 4 pm.
1) when trying to get pesos in Buenos Aires, you can go into any ATM with your foreign ATM card (most ATMs are connected to the Plus network, all the ones on the Banelco chain are) and get pesos at the daily exchange rate (usually a pretty advantageous one) directly without needing to go to a Currency Exchange.
2) Never get 100 pesos out of an ATM in Argentina - because, most likely, you will end up with one 100 pesos bill, which is much harder to break (imagine if you went to pay a cab in NY with 100 bucks, same situation). All ATMs store also 10, 20 50 and 100 Pesos bills - I usually get 90 pesos which breaks down to one 50 and 2 "20s" or 4 "10s" depending on the ATM - that way I already have a decent amount of change
3) NO FEES on argentine ATMs! so you won't have the added $1.50 / $2.50 transaction cost you get in the US
4) when you are about to travel back to the US and if you ran out of dollars head for the ATM again, most stock dollars and pesos.
The firs thing you have to do when you arrive to Buenos Aires is to know a 'porteño' (BSAS citizen). This is the best way to get to know the mayor part of this city life.
Try my number if you want to. It would be a pleasure for me to assist you during your staying here.
At the consulate in Av Pellegrini, the large wide street in Buenos Aires ( 9 de julio ), the busy brazilian consulate would facilitate your visa, for australians 90 days.. you enter and fill in your application electronically and give them a picture and they would give you a receipt for you to go to the bank and pay the visa fees. you can come back later in that day and certainly the day after and your visa is ready.
If you are thinking of visiting foz de iguazu, you will need a visa for brasil if you are an australian citizen since the best views are on the brazilian side, eventhough i dont remember anyone checking passports. i stayed on the brasilian side on my visit to Foz..
It is the same bureaucracy.. five days and a fax to canberra for verification!
But they would issue a visa and you have to leave your passport.
For my next Indian visa, I am told the indian consulate in San Francisco would issue a visa on the same day.. I will try that.
The embassy of Vietnam is in Belgrano at avenida 11 setiembre. It is a rather dull looking building inside and out and it seldom seems to be well attended. On ringing the bell, a voice appears usually in a heavily accented spanish and soon a welcome face opens the high door into the embassy.
This is one of the nicest places and needless to say easy, to get vietnamese visa. for 45 usd, you can get the visa the same day and if the officer is there he gives it to you straightaway..
The subte is jose fernandez on d line. no 60 bus will take you to virrey del pino and drop you off at corner of cabildo or at calle luis campos. from there it is just a short walk.
O negócio mais comum em BsAs são as lojinhas de telefonia e Internet - estão em todo lugar.
Esqueça cartões de telefone e outros métodos, pois essas cabines são o meio mais confortável de telefonar, e uma ligação para o Brasil sai por algo menos de P$1 o minuto.
Já o acesso à Internet é muito barato, tipo P$1 a 2 a hora!